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June 2016


Sunil James, one of the Sehion youth ministers in the UK, warns about spending too much time playing video games.


In the past children enjoyed themselves playing games together. Their innocent pastimes would challenge their bodies or their minds. Games like hide and seek, football, tag, boxed games or chess. But today, it is alarming to see even young children playing games that involve killing people, for fun! These days the majority of games contain violence or explicit material. Young people spend hours and hours in a virtual world, kicking a ball to an imaginary team mate, meeting strangers in virtual hotels, or trying to kill someone by some gruesome means. Unfortunately, gaming has gone from playing for fun to a way of life.


Gaming in itself is not wrong, and I can see many benefits from playing video games, but the reality is that gaming is addictive. Just like food and water, games have become a need for a lot of people. I remember running a session for teenagers, and in the 30 minute break, many boys took out their phones to play games rather than having to talk to the others. Some people are so engrossed in the world of gaming that they prefer not to speak to real people. Gaming addiction is a serious problem that we need to address.


Many gamers, when they get home, instead of talking to their parents about their day, just throw their bags in a corner, grab something to eat quickly then start gaming straight away. They neglect their friends and family. I’ve also noticed that after playing games I can’t concentrate on other things like studying. This is because gaming over stimulates the brain and then, when you try to read a book your brain finds it boring and it makes you relive the “scenes” or memories of the recent game.


There is an added danger when you spend too much time by yourself, in a room with a console that is connected to the internet. After playing the same game for a few hours, you are bound to get bored and the temptation for young people, with their raging hormones, is to find, watch and do things that are sinful. Also many games involve killing or have some questionable “that kind” of content. (You know what I mean!) What I don’t understand is that movies with lots of killings and “those kinds of scenes” have an age restriction but for some reason games with this kind of content are deemed ok for all age groups.


Gaming takes us away from reality. Many teenagers and young adults complain that their parents don’t spend time with them. Though this may sometimes be true, it is also our responsibility to spend time with them. I remember reading a quote about gaming from Fr. Edward Connolly, who said “Reality is where I work out my salvation. Reality is where I meet Mum and Dad, brother and sister, son and daughter, wife or husband, God and neighbour and, come to think of it, myself. Video games are an alternate reality. There I can pretend that I don’t have mum dad, brother, sister, son, daughter, wife or husband, God or neighbour, only myself. It’s kind of like Hell.”


The truth is that games change us without us knowing it. They can make us more aggressive and we start to expect everything to happen quickly, just like in the games. We become impatient to progress in the game at any cost. I remember setting my alarm to wake me in the middle of the night so that I could play games undisturbed. Eventually, instead of us playing the games, it is the games that take control of us. St Paul warns us in Romans 8:7, “The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law – indeed it cannot.” When our mind is so full of games and fast paced action, how can you sit silently and pray? Saying the Holy Rosary seems tedious, praying or reading the Bible becomes boring. Instead of having pleasant dreams, we end up having questionable dreams involving killings or “those kinds of dreams.” Our whole lives become controlled by the games that we play.


The solution is to control your gaming. If you are addicted and have tried to stop but can’t, it is because you are relying on your own power. It is almost impossible to break any form of addiction, even gaming, in your own strength. You are much more likely to succeed by trusting and relying on God’s power. “It depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who shows mercy.” (Romans 9:16) My advice is that you have to control your gaming. You have to realise that gaming takes you away from the real world where God exists and puts you into an imaginary world that ultimately will lead you to sin.


Instead of spending hours in front of your screen, spend quality time with your parents and siblings. Spend time in prayer and reading Sacred Scripture. These things will lead you to freedom and enable you to live life to the full. A dependence on gaming will lead you to being imprisoned in a cycle of addiction. Choose Jesus, and let Him be your priority and then you will see beautiful and amazing things in your life; choose gaming and then, as research shows, you are choosing to be depressed, lonely and isolated. This is the harsh but awkward truth about prolonged gaming. You might think playing games will make you appear cooler and bring you many “friends” but the reality is that you will end up all by yourself as a loner.